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Fancy flights — Vino-lovers often rave about the Loire Valley in the heart of France, renowned for the exceptional quality, variety and affordability of its wines. This Thursday, Aug. 13, Ann Arbor's Vinology will offer an outdoor tasting of the valley's famed wines. Tasting includes 6-8 wines with three plated appetizer pairings; $35 per person plus tax and tip; at 7-9 p.m., at 110 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-9841.
Wormwood high — Commune Lounge, the 1920s-style spot (think chandeliers and curtains) downstairs from Bastone in Royal Oak, is now presenting a new menu of Absinthe-inspired cocktails. The lounge opens at 6 p.m. and is open until midnight Monday-Wednesday, 1 a.m. Thursday, and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays. At 419 S. Main Street in Royal Oak.
New eats — Rochester Hills has a new restaurant: Chapman's Mill, on Crooks Road just north of M-59, is a casual bar and restaurant featuring American-friendly fare: steaks, seafood, salads, Black Angus burgers and St. Louis Style Ribs. Drop in for lunch, dinner and late-night meals on their landscaped patio, or sink some drinks at their 30-seat bar. At 2086 Crooks Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-293-3366.
As the title suggests, Everyday Indian: 100 Fast, Fresh and Healthy Recipes (Whitecap Books, $29.95) teaches us how to use some common ingredients found in our homes to prepare Indian dishes that, while not 100 percent traditional, are certainly authentic, healthy and can be prepared quickly. Author Bal Arneson demystifies the process by combining Indian spices with foods that are found in our pantries and refrigerators, even offering shortcuts, such as using canned beans that do not need to be soaked overnight and cooked for hours.
New Orleans is largely known for its cocktails. But in the woods about 30 miles north of the city, Abita Brewing Company has been crafting quality beer for more than a decade. Every time we belly up for a glass of draft Turbodog at Howe's Bayou, we're reminded of just how well they do it. Though Turbodog is a dark beer with mild mocha and toffee flavors, the body is not overly thick or chewy, and it pairs remarkably well with much of Howe's Cajun-spiced fare.
There's something very satisfying about cooking over an open fire out in the wilderness with friends and a bottle of wine. A Rome "pie iron" adds to the experience. Several models are available, but this cast iron panini press caught our eye. Put the ingredients between two slices of bread, and put it the press. After some time over a hot campfire, the meats, cheeses, vegetables grill and the bread gets crisp. See pieirons.com to check out other sizes and shapes, as well as a cookbook to give you more ideas.
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